It looks like Mr Hustle & Flow, Craig Brewer is no longer attached to write and direct this, as was announced late last year. I was actually kind of curious to see how he would approach to material, given some of his comments about it around the same time – like the fact that it was a "passion project" for him, with the plan being to tell the Tarzan story over three (3) films; and finally, he had this to say, with regards to the potentially explosive racial subtext in the material…
“I don’t want to give too much away of what I’m doing, but that is something I have thought about, and something I am addressing, and I can just say that “Tarzan” is a love story really, the movie I want to tell, that’s on the backdrop of this adventure, where Tarzan has to reconnect to his love, Jane, and to Africa itself. I know there’s probably going to be some concerns, in terms of racial attitudes toward the original films, and towards the books, but it’s territory that I’ve been in before… I don’t want to say I’m comfortable in it, because I think it’s best to stay a little uncomfortable, and be mindful of things that need to be sensitive, but I think it’s important to tell a great story from one of the most famous literary characters of all time.”
As I wondered previously, how exactly would a studio-backed, live-action, big-budgeted Tarzan movie play out today? Are they planning on sticking to the original Edgar Rice Burroughs creation, which had our man raised in the "Jungles of Africa," among the "great apes," after his British parents are marooned on the West coast of the continent by mutineers? Will he also be clinging, leaping, and swinging from tree branches like the apes, bellowing in the process? I'm really trying to visualize this.
Or will it be more of a contemporary take on the novel, and Tarzan is instead an Indiana Jones type of character?
Warner Bros has apparently moved away from Brewer with David Yates (director of 4 Harry Potter movies) now attached to helm the project, and Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) starring as the title character.
Further, Variety says that Samuel L. Jackson is circling a role in the film as well, and if signed, will play a character named George Washington Williams, an ex-mercenary who teams up with Tarzan to save the Congo from a warlord who controls a massive diamond mine.
Of course! The white hero and his black sidekick team up to save an African country from one of its own.
Keep in mind that George Washington Williams is a real life historical figure who I'd say deserves a movie entirely his own, not as Tarzan's sidekick. Williams, a Civil War veteran, is maybe best known as the author of History of the Negro Race in America, widely considered the first objective history of African Americans. In addition to being an author, Williams was also a pastor, attorney and legislator–the first African American to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives.
His Congo connection in real life? He is said to have visited the country when it was controlled by Belgian King Leopold II, and was outspoken on the suffering the indigenuous people were experiencing under Leopold's rule – a humanitarian disaster that saw the death's of millions, which Williams would report on.
This was all in the late 1800s to early 1900s.
And in this movie, he'll be reduced to an ex-mercenary sidekick who teams with Tarzan to rid the country of what I'm betting will be a Congolese warlord. How about they set the movie during Leopold's rule, and have Leopold be the villain who needs to be dismissed?
The film is being produced by Jerry Weintraub, Alan Riche, Peter Riche, Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg of Dark Horse Entertainment.